Breaking the Silence

The dusk jacket description of Breaking the Silence

Breaking the Silence is one actress's surprising, powerful memoir of family secrets and personal courage, told with earthiness, spirit, humor, and unabashed honesty.

From the beginning, Mariette Hartley seemed to have it all: brains, talent, looks, and charm-they ran in her family. But other things ran in her family as well.

Her funny, alcoholic adman/artist father grew dreamy, grew depressed, and then shot himself in the head, with Mariette in the next room...

Her rage-filled, silence-prone mother, a secret drinker, tried repeatedly to commit suicide, first one way and then another-she'd never escaped the bonds of her own father, John B. Watson, the trailblazing behaviorist who preached that children should never be kissed, hugged, or even touched; it wasn't scientific...

Her jealousy-obsessed first husband beat her at the smallest imagined slight-but only where it didn't show...

Mariette herself began to drink, began to contemplate suicide, until her life, and her career, hit bottom. It was only then that she found the strength to put her parents legacy behind her and begin the long, valiant journey back.

Breaking the Silence is a book of hope and courage, but remarkably, it is a book of high good humor as well. With wit, humanity, and a directness that is sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes hilarious, Mariette Hartley describes that odyssey: the terror of the descent, the drama of the breakthrough, and the joy of building not only a new life, but a new, healthy family of her own. Filled with marvelous stories about television, Hollywood, and a life suffused with both tragedy and comic absurdity, Breaking the Silence is a work as warm, forthright, and thoroughly engaging as Hartley herself.

Emmy Award winner and six-time Emmy nominee Mariette Hartley has acted on stage, screen, and television for more than thirty years. She has been in films such as Ride the High Country' in television series ranging from Peyton Place to M*A*S*H to the current WIOU; in such acclaimed television movies as M.A.D.D: Mothers Against Drunk Drivers and Silence of the Heart; and of course, in those Polaroid commercials. For nine frenetic months, she cohosted CBS's The Morning Program, for a description of which, see within. She is currently developing a one-woman stage show.

Hartley is the honorary director of the American Suicide Foundation, and is active in many other organizations, including MADD. She speaks at schools, clinics, and hospitals around the country, and lives in southern California with her husband and their two children.


Now for my own short review. This is not a happy book to read, admittedly, but it is a very good book to read. It's very sad that anyone has to go through these types of experiences. The problem with drinking in this country is well known; the problem with depression, and its effects on people, is a problem which is known but not acknowledged.

Too many people have the attitude that all a person has to do is "pull themselves up by their bootstraps" and "quit feeling sorry for yourself" and that the depression will just go away; such statements imply that the person is being somehow lazy about not trying harder; the answer is simply in changing the way a person looks at things.

Bull. Solid, 100% smell-to-the-heavens bull. Depression, especially of the type that she writes about in her book, can be an all-consuming, ever-present and inescapable reality for a person.

I described it in the following way in a zine I once did:

Imagine, basically, the darkest moment in your life, then imagine living like that every single day, every single night, with only very rare "breaks" from that type of feeling. Imaging the night filled with "anxiety" dreams, nightmares, etc. taking up about half or more of your sleeptime. Imagine having someone say something positive and immediately your mind comes up with a number of negative responses which you don't verbalize. Imagine you hating yourself for showing so much "weakness" when so many other people in the world are in a much worse financial/physical/political/etc. situation that you are in.Imagine knowing that this is very likely the way things will be for the rest of your life; small moments of happiness in a universe of darkness.

I even wrote a poem once summarizing such feelings:

If I were but a speck of dust
Cast in the endless realms of the universe
I doubt that I could be
more lonely.

This is the type of reality that depression is, much less than drunkenness and suicide. Mariette Hartley's book is important reading for anyone suffering from any of these types of problems; at least we can see that a person can survive the problems and find at least some joy in their lives.

I have included links below to sites that have valuable information on depression, and also sites that have information on the Americans with Disabilities Act. Severe depression actually is considered a disability under the ADA, and there are rights you have while on the job that the ADA protects. If you find any that don't work please let me know so I can remove them.

Links to places with information on depression and suicide

How to Cope with Suicidal Thoughts and Feelings - In Yourself & Others

Anger, Depression, and Disability: Adapting to a New Reality

The Guide to Rebuilding Bridges With Your Loved Ones After Battling Addiction

Earlier Than Too Late: Stopping Stress and Suicide Among Emergency Personnel

Teens and Peer Suicide: Dangerous Potential After-Effects

After a Suicide Attempt: A Guide for Family & Friends

Left Behind After Suicide

Suicide Prevention in College

Preventing Addiction and Suicide in Transgender Teens

Internet Mental Health. "Our goal is to improve understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illness throughout the world. "

Mind's Eye-Information on Depression

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill

National Foundation for Depressive Illness, Inc.

Suicide Awareness-Voices of Education

Schizophrenia Information Center

Wing of Madness-A Depression Guide

Americans with Disabilities Act sites